Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Grade 8 Perfect Learning Spaces

We have just finished one of our three "project weeks" here at QMS.  These are weeks where regular classes are suspended and the students participate in a week long discovery project.

This week the students were designing and building their "perfect learning environment".

A bit of background:

A few months ago we asked everyone in the middle school (Grades 6-9) to draw their perfect learning environment.  There was little direction provided, intentionally - we were interested in seeing what everyone came up with.

The grade 9 students then took these drawings and, for a math class on graphing and statistics, analyzed and graphed the data.  They took various structures (water, trees, natural light got put into a nature category, couches and beanbag chairs for comfortable seating) and put them into categories which were then graphed by a different group.

This data was presented, and passed on to, our Grade 8 students.  Their task was to take everything and, using the data, create a scale drawing and a model of their (or the middle school's) ideal learning environment.

They then had the opportunity to present their work to the board of directors building committee who are looking into our new middle years building - a fantastic, realistic learning opportunity.

Below are their creations!

A front view of an indoor/outdoor space.  The area in the middle is glassed in and, if there was a roof, would be open to the elements.  Also note the group tables and very comfortable seating - couches, covered benches, etc.  Finally, there is a fish tank in the corner.

Top view of the above.

 Scale drawing of the above.  1 square equals half a meter.

A "semi traditional" classroom with iPads on every desk and a classed in "fish floor" down the middle.  Beanbag chairs and a carpet provide a relaxing area for students to collaborate.

A learning commons with an indoor/outdoor area and lots of comfortable seating.  Tables and chairs are spread out around the room to allow for flexible groups with lots of storage space along the sides.

Scale drawing of the above.

A "semi traditional" classroom with beanbag chairs instead of the hard plastic ones an lots of nature - a fish tank in one corner and a pond in the other.  Comfortable seating can be seen as a theme across most of these creations!

A music and theater room.  The scale is quite small, but the room is designed to accommodate a full chamber orchestra.  Sound proof practice rooms are on one end with storage and a teacher area on the other.  The large central area has seating for the band or risers for the choir.

Overall, a very, very successful project - the students engaged with the mathematics and language requirements of presenting their information.  The fine arts teacher was thrilled with their sense of engagement in the building process.

I intend to do this again, with a few modifications, but am very pleased with the results!

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